I have great dreams that I can grow fruit at Wild Estate - the property at the back of us has apples and figs, and I saw a lemon tree not far from us the other day heavy with fruit. I got a bunch of raspberry and currant canes from a lady in the next suburb that had more fruit than she could deal with. So it can be done here in Wellington, where we have a rather, shall we say, special climate. But I have yet to have any real success with the two Meyer lemon trees and Tahitian lime we were given as housewarming gifts, and my blueberries and raspberries were in such a sad state from my putting them in bad spots, attacks on their roots by chooks and generally inadequate care by me, that they produced sweet nothing-at-all over the summer and autumn.
My in-laws have grapefruit, feijoa, peaches, and mandarins, but they're in Auckland where things just seem to burst out of the ground. My mother-in-law bottles peaches and freezes feijoa and brings us fruit by the bagful when they visit. By contrast, getting anything fruity to grow here seems to take a Herculean effort.
So hallelujah for Andrew Steens, whose book Grow It Yourself: Fruit and Nuts (RRP $39.99) should hopefully arm me with all the knowledge to replicate my neighbours' (and perhaps even my in-laws') successes. It's an extremely thorough book - the first book I've seen to go into detail about climate throughout New Zealand (though it doesn't say anything about Wellington, which worries me). It also goes into detail about soil, space and how you can plan your orchard on variously sized plots.
But what I like most of all is how the book investigates various varieties of each plant, so you know what to look for when you go shopping for new bushes and canes, as sometimes the details on the tags can be fairly vague. It's also gives comprehensive advice on what each plant needs. I don't feel like I need to consult a tonne of books before planting something out, or amending the soil before buying my plant, or building a bed to plant it out in. It's all in one place.
What it is a little light on is pictures. There's a really great section on pests and diseases, but I like to see what each thing looks like - a description of botrytis doesn't really do it for me. Despite that, this is definitely a bible for fruit growers; it will be my first port of call for anything to do with fruit from now on.
We have two copies of Grow It Yourself Fruit & Nuts to give away. Just leave a comment telling me about your fruit growing efforts. Do you struggle like I do, or are do you have enough to bottle and share? What are your tips?
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